While I wrote "I plan on staying serious for the first post of December, which will observe World AIDS Day," that doesn't prevent me from putting my own spin on the day. It turns out that I knew someone during my drum corps days who later suffered from AIDS and died, George Zingali, whose birthday happens to be today. I couldn't skip such synchronicity.
To celebrate George's life, I'm sharing three video tributes to him and his contribution to The Activity, beginning with Cj's Music's The Most Influential Drill Designer in DCI.
Lets (sic) discuss the man who not only set the stage for modern drill design, but who's (sic) designs to this day are still regarded as the best EVER.
I first met George in 1978, when I was on tour with the Anaheim Kingsmen. The corps was staying in Marblehead for CYO Nationals. George was visiting Kingsmen's rehearsal when he asked me to stand at attention and mark time for him. I did, but wondered why. Soon afterwards, another Kingsmen member told me he was an instructor for 27th Lancers and was seeing if I was worth recruiting into his corps. I guess I didn't pass, but that didn't bother me. Destiny had other plans, as I met two members of North Star that night, who I liked enough that I decided to join them in 1979. There I competed against 27th Lancers, even beating them at the 1979 CYO Nationals, although North Star ended up losing to them at the 1979 Drum Corps International (DCI) Championships, coming in ninth to 27th Lancers' fifth.
I skipped the 1980 season for geology summer field camp at UCLA, although I went to DCI Championships to see 27th Lancers place second, propelled in large part by the corps' flawless execution of George's drill, and North Star eleventh, then came back to North Star to age out in 1981. That was a disappointing season ending in a thirteenth place finish at DCI Championships prelims, but I don't regret marching there.
I did get one good story relevant to today's post out of the experience. George made a habit of climbing on top of the press box during 27th Lancers' performances and jumping up and down during the exciting parts. One time, North Star was marching into the stadium while 27th Lancers were on the field and we saw George doing this. My favorite instructor was close by and I heard him mutter "Happiness would be watching George Zingali fall off the press box." I chuckled at the time, but I'm glad it didn't happen. Drum corps would have missed George's best creative contributions to The Activity, which were yet to come.
Speaking of which, follow over the jump for two more video tributes, neither of which name George's illness.
"The man's remarkable, a genius, and we owe a debt of gratitude to him for pushing us in directions that we weren't comfortable with." On the legacy of the late DCI Hall of Fame visual designer, George Zingali.That's a good official highlights reel of George's creations for the Cadets and Star of Indiana, even showing George teaching during his final season, when he was sick from AIDS, but it never even mentions that. Sforzando at least mentioned his passing in DCI Legends: George Zingali.
George Zingali has been consistently praised for pushing DCI into the future as it pertains to drill and color guard.I had never even seen "the big bad wolf" from Star of Indiana's 1985 Disney show before this video. That, plus letting George's words and drill speak for themselves, made this video worth watching.
He has worked with 27th Lancers, Garfield Cadets, Star of Indiana, Blue Knights, and many more marching bands and winter guards.
A few months before he passed he was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame.(summer '91)
He is most well known for inventing the Z-Pull, collapsing company front, the big bad wolf, star-to-star, and the cross-to-cross.
That concludes today's retrospective on the life of George Zingali on what would have been his 72nd birthday, but remember this is a personal story about a life cut short by AIDS, so I'm sharing the following visual reminder of the day.
Stay tuned for a post about an event I wished for in John Oliver examines dollar stores, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse.
Maybe the House will finally expel George Santos. We should be so lucky, although the talk show hosts will miss him.We were so lucky.